The Cover - Getting It Right For Your Book

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In this section:

    Your cover is vitally important

    Your cover is the first point of contact that most people have with your book. The image should invoke the curiosity and interest of the reader, reflect the reader's expectations in both image and approach and fit in on the relevant shelves in the bookshop.

    Buyers will turn books down if the cover is not appropriate. If you’ve written a thriller and your cover looks like an academic textbook, your target readers won’t be drawn to it. And vice versa.

    We design your cover with your input

    1. We ask every author to look on Shutterstock and choose some images that could work well as the basis of their cover.
    2. Your Designer designs the cover, taking these images into account.
    3. Your Publicist offers reflection and suggestions on your image choices and the cover draft, where appropriate.
    4. Your Designer is notified to start work on the front cover when the copyedited manuscript is approved by you and the full cover (including the back and the spine) is produced when the text proofs are finished.
    5. Your Designer will upload one cover design.

    The final decision is with us, though in most cases the author's choice is upheld and our authors tend to be delighted with their covers.

    I want to design the cover myself or use my own designer. What should I do?

    We do not allow this.

    In our experience, we end up with an amateurish cover more often than not, and the extra work involved isn’t worth the cost.

    The cover is much more than the image. The finished file has to incorporate:

    • Book dimensions
    • Spine width
    • Coding

    In addition, we need to:

    • Prepare for the printer’s schedule.
    • Work with amendments.
    • Adjust the spine differently for the North American and UK markets.
    • Use a different paper for each market to accommodate this.

    Potential problems here are endless, and we cannot produce different designs for different markets. We prefer to work with the designers we know, who are familiar with our work and our systems. It is rare otherwise for it to run smoothly, and the eventual result is not normally as good.

    This is why we propose our middle way. You give us images to work with and start the process and the lettering and overall design stay with us.

    We do not get into correspondence on the cover

    It is too subjective an area, and corrections/amendments can be endless.

    How to choose a picture for your cover


    • Don’t create a Shutterstock account – you don’t need to.
    • Use the big search box on the homepage to find images that would work well as the basis of your cover.
    • When you see an image you like, click on it and take a note of the Stock Photo ID (in the bottom left corner).
    • Write down the Stock Photo IDs in Notes for this workflow stage in the Cover Workflow section.



    • Think about your your target audience when you choose an image.
    • Research bestsellers on Amazon to see what is popular in your genre.
    • Read Author Branding for more advice.

    I have an image for my cover which is not a Shutterstock image, what should I do?

    This is fine.

    Your image needs to be:

    • Copyright-cleared.
    • High-res (300ppi).
    • In jpeg format.
    • Credited – write any credits in the Editorial – Back Cover Copy Workflow section on your Production page or post them on the forum.

    If your image fulfils these criteria, upload it to the Cover Workflow section.

    How to upload your cover images

    Visit the Cover Workflow section

    • Click on +upload a file.
    • Select Other.
    • Name it Cover Idea.

    My book is part of a series. Can you make the covers match?

    If your book is part of a series, please choose an image that fits in with the other titles. Your Designer will match the font and overall look.

    Can I add endorsements, or the author of the Introduction/Preface, to the cover?

    As a rule, we say don’t bother to do this unless the person is well-known in their field and likely to generate extra interest.

    If you believe this is the case:

    • Make a note in Notes for this workflow stage in the Cover Workflow section.
    • Make sure you are clear about what you want, e.g. Please include ‘Introduction by Bob Dylan’ on the front cover or please add this endorsement -‘…a work of genius, my Bible', Boris Johnson, PM to the front cover”
    • Note – there is not enough space for both an endorsement and an Introduction/Preface acknowledgement on the front cover.

    Providing the name is “big” enough, the designer will include the text on the cover.

    Do not ask us to add information to the cover that you do not already have

    If you want a snippet from an endorsement on the cover, it must be received and added to your book’s page. Don’t ask us to add an endorsement that you are waiting for, or that might happen.

    Likewise, if you are waiting for a foreword from an influential name but haven’t received it yet, don’t ask us to add it until it is actually delivered.

    Can I use my cover for my own marketing?

    Of course! There is no need to acknowledge copyright of Adobe Stock pictures on publicity material.

    How do I download my cover?

    Once your cover is finalized, you can download in the Final Files section of your book’s Production Page:

    • A low-res version of your cover (72ppi) as a JPEG – for use advertising, website, emails, press releases etc.
    • High-res version of your cover (300ppi) as a JPEG – for use in printing the finished cover.
    • The full front and back cover as a PDF

    In addition, in the Cover Workflow section you can find (as well as earlier cover drafts):

    • The image (usually from Adobe Stock) that the designer used to make your cover.
    • Details about the typefaces and Adobe Stock image used on your cover.

    These materials combined should give you all you need to:

    • Pitch your book to the media.
    • Promote your book on social media.
    • Create your own marketing graphics, materials, trailers, etc

    Your back cover

    The back cover contains:

    The spine

    The width of the spine depends on the amount of pages. The Designer leaves it late to design this, to maximize time for you to finish sourcing endorsements (which could add to the page count).

    Why is my photo not on the back cover?

    We do not usually have a photo on the back cover, they are mostly used for self-help and business books in North America, but if you do want it there, make a note in Notes for this workflow stage in the Cover Workflow section.

    The typeface on your cover

    Your Designer will make a note of the typeface used on your cover in the notes on the Cover Workflow section.

    Typefaces we like to use:

    • Baskerville
    • Minion
    • Humanist 521
    • Humanist 777
    • Trade Gothic
    • Myriad
    • Apex New
    • Franklin Gothic
    • DIN
    • Trajan

    The main cover font for the Zer0 Books brand, for instance, is Refrigerator from, and the back cover copy is in Conduit.

    The finish on your cover

    Our default cover finish is matt, and the majority of our books have a matt cover.

    Covers with special finishes, embossing, cut-outs, etc. are only practical if you are already selling in the tens/hundreds of thousands. They means much longer print runs, at different printers in North America and the UK.

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